Laugh Factory

In recent weeks, San Francisco’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners has boosted its comedic potential so much that even Comedy Central would be envious. The agency has hired former creative-turned-commercial-director-turned-creative-again Mike Maguire as associate creative director, along with four up-and-coming teams—some of whom scored big during this past Super Bowl, with spots such as Ameriquest’s “Surprise Dinner” and CareerBuilder.com’s “Monkey.”

“A lot of it was based on the availability of really good people,” explains creative director Jeff Goodby. “The great work was there, the opportunity to hire was there, and we just couldn’t pass it up.”

That said, Goodby can certainly use the new hires, which include the copywriter/art director teams of Pat McKay and Feh Tarty; Pat Hanna and Ted Jenkins; Hart Rusen and Marc Sobier; and Rus Chao and Dave Muller. The agency has been growing with additional business from clients Budweiser, Hewlett-Packard, Dreyer’s and Banana Republic, says Goodby, and pitching new business, such as Comcast. “So there is a need for people,” he explains.

The agency has also seen some attrition—including the recent departure of the high-profile French creative duo Fred Raillard and Farid Mokart, aka Fred & Farid, who had worked on everything from Pony to Netflix— which Goodby termed natural.

As for the new additions, “The quality of the people is terrific—more than half of the people we’ve hired have experience making ads for the Super Bowl and have been very successful at it, and that’s, of course, something that we do,” says Goodby.

Leading the pack is Maguire, who until recently was one half of the directing duo Kuntz & Maguire. (Maguire’s former partner Tom Kuntz will con- tinue to direct through Morton Jankel Zander, Los Angeles.) A Super Bowl veteran, Maguire saw various spots he directed with Kuntz featured during past games. The most notable: the Budweiser commercial “Cards” out of DDB, Chicago, a few years back.

The one-time agency creative, whose career included stints with Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners, New York, and MTV’s New York-based On-Air Promotions department before he began directing full-time five years ago, says he increasingly missed the thrill of conceptualizing and credited his directing tenure to his relationship with his partner. “Part of the reason I was able to stay in directing so long was I was with Tom, and Tom and I, as different as we were—were like brothers,” says Maguire.

Maguire, who as part of Kuntz & Maguire has directed spots for Goodby clients including Budweiser, may continue to direct for the agency once on staff. “I’m sure we’d welcome it,” Goodby shares, noting, “That’s one we wouldn’t have to bid out.”

Maguire, who starts at Goodby on April 11, says he doesn’t know whom he might be partnered with at the agency. “There are a couple of guys whose names [Goodby and creative director Jamie Barrett] put out there, and I was psyched,” Maguire says, choosing not to get more specific. He also says he doesn’t know which accounts he will work on.

Goodby confirms that he kept Maguire—as well as the other creatives hired—in the dark about what they would be working on. “I could tell them, but why bother when it could—and probably will—change when they get here?” Goodby reasons.

McKay and Tarty, who saw their Ameriquest work, including “Surprise Dinner,” showcased on the last Super Bowl, start at Goodby in early April. The team, from DDB Direct in Los Angeles, could not be reached at press time to discuss their move.

Goodby, however, says he was impressed by the pair’s inventiveness. “They went out and shot a lot of additions to that Ameriquest campaign on their own—they directed and shot the stuff themselves,” he says. “They’re the kind of people we love to have—people that really love the hands-on part of making things.”

Hanna and Jenkins were the creative force behind another Super Bowl spot, CareerBuilder.com’s “Monkey,” out of Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago. “We have a history of doing ads with chimpanzees for E*Trade, and we thought it would be a good fit,” Goodby jokes. “No, we just thought that stuff was incredibly inventive, and that the tone and feel of it would be successful around our place.”

Hanna, 32, and Jenkins, 36, who also begin at Goodby in early April, were also unreachable for comment at press time. Asked his thoughts on the pair, C-K executive creative director Marshall Ross quips, “Maybe they’ll make Goodby as good as C-K.”

Kidding aside, Ross says, “I’ve always had tons of respect for Goodby. Not that we won’t miss Pat and Ted because we will, and they are always welcome back, but it’s good for Goodby because they are going to get two guys with a really interesting Midwest point of view on humor.”

Also joining Goodby are Rusen and Sobier, who literally wowed Goodby with “Trunk Monkey,” a spot the pair did out of R/West, Portland, Ore., for Suburban Autogroup. “Another monkey ad,” Goodby muses with a chuckle. “After seeing ‘Trunk Monkey,’ I said to Linda Harless, our creative manager, ‘This thing is hilarious. We’ve got to meet these guys.'”

According to Sobier, who was in the process of relocating his wife and their 2-week-old baby boy to San Francisco from Portland when Adweek reached him, he and Rusen had hit a ceiling in Portland. “I love living in Portland, but the market seemed to be not quite there,” Sobier says, citing limited opportunities to do TV work.

“Our hope was to wind up somewhere like this,” says Rusen, 40, who is already settled into his new office at Goodby. “Their work is incredibly intelligent and diverse.”

Chao and Muller are already at Goodby, working on Subway and Ace Hardware. The team previously spent two years at TBWA\ Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., working on Sony PlayStation, Anheuser-Busch and Nissan. Both are looking forward to the opportunity to work for a variety of brands at Goodby. “Here, it seems like you never get stuck on a client,” Chao says. “You get to move around a lot.”

“As soon as you get pigeonholed on a client, you run out of ideas. There’s only so much you can do on a car before you need to move on and just refresh yourself,” Muller adds. “You stay on your toes that way.”

Their Nissan work—the spots “Waterfight” and “Sprinter”— is what first caught Goodby’s eye. “They are a magnetic pair,” he says. “They are a great team on the way up.”

In fact, the veteran adman notes, “The great thing about all of them is I think they are people whose best work is ahead of them.”

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